TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Australian scientists claimed that they have made a key breakthrough in a desperate bid to develop a vaccine for the killer coronavirus.
- Science news -
Researchers at the University of Queensland are making a fast-tracked attempt to make a cure for the disease, which has killed more than 2,200 people worldwide.
There are now dozens of Australians suffering from the respiratory disease, with 47 contracting it on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
Working with the global Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations rapid response program, Australian researchers have now met a key milestone in their vaccine effort, the Daily Mail reported.
They are trying to develop the first life-saving vaccine for coronavirus, which has been renamed COVID-19.
The first attempt is now ready, and will soon be tested.
"There is still extensive testing to ensure that the vaccine candidate is safe and creates an effective immune response," the university's Vice-Chancellor Peter Hoj said.
"But the technology and the dedication of these researchers means the first hurdle has been passed."
Dr Keith Chappell, senior research fellow and UQ's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, said they had used the same technology as had helped developed vaccines for Ebola, MERS coronavirus and Nipah.
"But this technology is also designed to be able to quickly respond to a currently unknown virus," Dr Chappell explained.
"We've put together a group of some of Australia's leading academic institutions, with the goal of reducing the time required for vaccine development down from multiple years to a matter of weeks."
The disease has infected more than 75,500 in China, and another 1,150 people across the world in 27 other countries.
Earlier on Saturday, two more Australians were diagnosed with the deadly virus after being evacuated to Darwin from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The Diamond Princess has been moored in Yokohama since February 3, and more than 630 passengers on the gigantic vessel have caught the coronavirus
Two people from Victoria tested positive for the infection after being evacuated from the ship, and will be sent to hospitals in Victoria.
Two Queensland women aged 54 and 55 also tested positive on Friday night for the infection after leaving the ship on Thursday and will be flown to a Brisbane hospital on Saturday for further treatment.
Six Australians have tested positive for coronavirus after being taken off the ship.
A 78-year-old man from Western Australia was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth on Friday. His wife was to travel with him but then be isolated at home for two weeks.
A 24-year-old woman from South Australia has been transferred to Royal Adelaide Hospital.
The boat had been quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, for several weeks after a man with coronavirus had been on board - infecting dozens of passengers.
There have been 19 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Australian soil.
Meanwhile, Australia has extended its ban on foreign travelers from China for another week as the number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Hubei province grows.
The ban is due to end on February 29 but is under ongoing consideration from the national security committee of cabinet.